|The bride and groom as cake toppers|
Steampunk went bridal last Sunday.
The invite – pitch black on one side, dark gray with a giant moth on the other – should have given us a clue as to what to wear, but since the dress code was described as "formal" my partner and I decided to keep it simple.
Or so I thought before I started traipsing around the clearance section of Seattle's best known high-end outlet store for a dress, determined to show my beloved that I could scrub up nice.
As garments go, dresses are as alien to me as diving suits. I spend my days in discount yoga pants or an old pair of hiking trousers teamed with ancient tank tops and a hoodie. Dressing up means jeans without holes in them, Converse sneakers that don't have too many stains, and a lumberjack shirt.
The search proved easier than expected when I happened upon a black silk, over-the-knee expanse of fabric with bat wings, according to the label. Quirky, classy, understated with mysterious side holes (clever apertures allowing the wearer to yank up her tights discreetly without having to lift the entire dress and expose a spandexed lardy rear?). Plus it would show just the right amount of leg, thus lending the outfit a hint of sexy.
That I believe my lower limbs are comparable to those of a Shetland pony is something I would need to try and offset.
In which I am not sure I even know how to walk as I've spent my entire life shunning them. Why anyone would willingly encase the precious metatarsals that support their entire body into those instruments of torture in the name of some indefinable concept called "fashion" is, well, beyond me.
And so I dragged my partner (he who worked in clothing retail during college and can tell the size of things and people with the most fleeting of glances) back to the clearance section of Seattle's best known high-end outlet store and perused racks and racks of footwear with pointy, furry, shiny, twisted bits occasionally decked with studs, glitter, straps, rhinestones and feathers.
Because I badly needed to pee after spending 45 minutes on a bus, the whole shoe hunting exercise was relatively quick. Ever the plain Jane, I settled on a pair of keenly-priced black patent contraptions called Orlina, glowering at them all the way to the cash register.
And for the 48 hours leading up to the wedding, I was all frayed nerves and knotted insides.
Sartorial angst aside, I couldn't remember the last wedding I attended. When I eventually did, I realized it was my own back in 1995. Not exactly a reference.
But what concerned me most of all was that this was a family affair, featuring my beloved's nephew as the groom and the groom's parents and sister as, well, themselves. The remote possibility the day might also guest-star Grandma – aka my partner's mom – was enough to cause me to hyperventilate at regular intervals.
On Sunday morning, I turned into a made-up human bat on stilts, much to the delight of my partner who had never witnessed such displays of sartorial femininity from me before. We glided down the freeway in a little happy cloud of mutual – and joint – pride.
There, we walked into a world of mini bowler hats, comedy guns and lace all gracefully ambling along to the elegant sounds of a string quartet. We were greeted by a smiling groom in top hat and tails and I was introduced to his parents and teen sister, all of whom would later laugh as they confessed to wondering for a long time whether I was real or not. Grandma, whose place would remain empty that day, had apparently mentioned me (?!).
The bride took everyone's breath away with a gigantic grin that lit up the room and the wedding party turned into a herd of Cheshire cat clones. Many times throughout the event, my beloved and I squeezed hands and exchanged relieved glances.
Although this day was not about us at all, it certainly became a personal milestone of sorts.
Later, wandering around the Japanese grocery store heels in hand, I noticed that calm and gratitude had finally replaced the knotty feeling inside my stomach.
Only a few hours before, I had been a complete stranger to my beloved's relatives.
Now, I was – I am – part of the family.